Taking a taxi is normally a simple procedure in Canada, but if you're about to embark on a trip and don't want to carry much cash, make an exception for the cab. Many taxi companies in Canada have equipped at least some of their cars with point-of-sale systems so that the drivers can take debit and credit cards. However, for one reason or another, a lot of drivers refuse to take the cards. Here's a look at why cash remains king for many drivers -- and what can happen if you forget to carry paper money with you.
As mentioned, many companies have added machines to at least some of their cars. This does not mean all of the companies have added machines to all of their cars. This point is especially important for Americans coming to visit Canada because card readers have become very common in cities in the U.S. If you call ahead for a taxi, be sure to mention that you want to use a card to ensure the company sends a taxi with a working machine. If you're hailing a taxi on the street or grabbing one at a taxi stand at the airport, ask before getting into the cab if the driver will accept plastic. Verify that your card's logo and networks will be acceptable.
Fees and More Fees
Taxi companies get charged a small fee for each electronic transaction, just like stores do. While tips are often much larger than the fee, so the driver wouldn't lose part of the fare anyway, the driver would still be losing part of the tip, as people look at both fees and tips as "extra" costs. This has led some drivers to refuse to use the machines, saying the ones they have are broken.
True Technical Issues
Then again, sometimes the machines really are broken. The network could be down, the reader could be malfunctioning, or the connection between the bank and the taxi company could be spotty. These can happen at any time, so even if you arrange to get a cab with a working machine, carry cash anyway -- you just don't know if the machine will decide to give up the ghost that day.
What Happens to You
If you get caught in a situation in which you have only plastic but the driver will take only cash, don't get out of the car if you've already been driven to your destination. If the driver hasn't left yet, by all means, get out so that you and the driver can find better taxis or customers, respectively.
If you've been driven to your destination and find out then that you can't use a card, you'll have to find a bank, and that means that you'll be charged more for the ride around town to find a bank or ATM, and then the ride back to your destination. That can easily double your taxi fare if you're in an area that doesn't have much commercial development.
The safest action to take is to plan out your trip -- many companies have websites that have calculators that you can use -- and ensure you have enough cash for fare and tip. If you are concerned about being caught without cash, contact taxi companies and see which ones take plastic, or ask them what they suggest if the machines in their cabs don't work. Advance communication will help you avoid an annoying and expensive detour. For information about taxi trips, you can discover more here.